South Burlington man denies multiple drug charges | Local News

BURLINGTON — A South Burlington businessman who owns a home that has been the site of several serious drug overdoses since March — including two deaths — has pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court to four misdemeanor counts of illegal possession of drugs.

South Burlington Police said they asked county prosecutors to file more serious charges against Bruce Erdmann, 62, of Swift Street, due to all the findings of a lengthy criminal investigation.

But the office of Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George opted not to pursue two felony charges for illegal distribution of cocaine that led to a serious overdose for a woman last March and possession of methamphetamine in June, records show.

George’s office instead filed four misdemeanor charges for knowingly and unlawfully possessing clonazepam, methamphetamines, methylphenidate and alprazolam, all on June 29. Each charge, upon conviction, carried up to one year in prison and up to a $2,000 fine.

Erdmann, whose father was a prominent Burlington lawyer, is listed as the president of BluePrints etc. on Farrell Street in South Burlington.

George’s office also thought Erdmann could be released back into the community without any conditions or restrictions on his behavior.

The 15-page police affidavit paints a picture of rampant drug use at the Erdmann house and occupants not calling for help when at least two people had serious overdoses. In one case, one of Erdmann’s sons said he took a cellphone picture of his best friend passed out with the idea of ​​showing it to him later. The friend, Brian A. Miller, 29, died about an hour later during the June 29 incident, court records show.

Det. Cpl. Sarah Superneau outlined how Bruce Erdmann provided a large line of cocaine on March 12, 2021, to the family’s 59-year-old housekeeper. The Shelburne woman ingested it and a few minutes later passed out for four hours without Erdmann and his wife, Ellen, calling 911 for medical assistance, Superneau reported.

Ellen K. Erdmann, 62, died at the house June 28 from acute fentanyl intoxication, according to her death certificate.

Judge Elizabeth Novotny questioned why the prosecution was not seeking court-imposed conditions of release that would include prohibiting Erdmann from having contact with the Shelburne house cleaner, her daughter and two other women who are also witnesses.

While a deputy prosecutor, who was filling in at the arraignment, looked at the case file for an answer, Erdmann’s defense lawyer, Ian Carlton said his client had no objection to the court ordering him to have no contact with the four women.

Novotny then added a second condition that Erdmann not buy, use or possess any regulated drugs without a legal prescription while the criminal prosecution is pending. She suggested a third condition for a substance abuse assessment, but Carlton reported to Erdmann authorized him to disclose the defendant was enrolled in a daily methadone clinic through the Howard Center.

It was unclear why George’s office did not pursue the more serious felony drug charges presented by city police. George did not respond to inquiries about the case.

George has declined certain types of drug cases, and since at least 2017 said she favors safe injection sites to allow street narcotic users to get clean needles and supervision. Drugs are not provided by the state, but rather users supply their own under such a plan.

During the 6-minute state arrangement Novotny also asked if Erdmann was out on conditions from any federal case.

Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Sally Adams said she was unaware of where the US Attorney’s Office stood with the case.

“I know for a fact there is no federal prosecution pending,” Carlton said. “I don’t know whether there is any investigation going on.”

A South Burlington detective assigned to the Vermont Drug Task Force reported that the US Food and Drug Administration has an investigation with Erdmann as a person of interest for getting significant prescription medications through the mail from a California company, Superneau wrote.

South Burlington Police responded to the Erdman house for two fatal overdoses on two consecutive days — June 28 and 29, 2021. Ellen Erdmann died June 28, but Bruce Erdmann never sought an initial autopsy for his wife apparently because she had ongoing medical concerns, police said.

The next day, Brian Miller, 29, overdosed while visiting the house to offer condolences to his friend Devin Erdmann, 29, police said. It was during that case that the medical examiner ordered Ellen Erdmann’s body seized from the Ready Funeral Home for an autopsy and learned about her overdose, the police said.

While at the Erdmann home June 29, police obtained a search warrant and seized multiple containers of various drugs, mostly in Bruce Erdmann’s bedroom and office, Superneau said.

It was that day that police also learned about the photograph of Miller taken by Devin Erdmann with his cellphone, Superneau wrote.

Miller was passed out and propped against the kitchen wall with his head slumped forward, the public court affidavit stated. Devin Erdmann told police he took the picture so Miller could “see how stupid he looked when he woke up,” Superneau wrote.

Instead, he was dead an hour later.

At least eight containers with various drugs believed belonging to Bruce Erdmann were seized, Superneau wrote. Four containers belonging to his wife also were confiscated, police said.

The Shelburne housekeeper in March “was not provided any medical attention after she lost consciousness. When she woke up hours later, she drove herself home where she had a seizure and was subsequently transported to the hospital,” Superneau wrote.

Hospital lab tests showed the woman had cocaine, along with benzodiazepines and cannabinoids in her system, police said.

One witness reported that Bruce Erdmann had been dealing drugs out of his house and his business, police said. The witness said she went out to dinner with Ellen Erdmann the day after the overdose by house cleaner and she described what happened, court records show.

The witness reported Ellen Erdmann said the cleaning woman collapsed on the bathroom floor and Bruce Erdmann picked her up and put her on a bed, but never called for help because he did not want police involved, Superneau said.

The victim never contacted the police after the incident and was hesitant even when reached by Superneau after two people reported concerns about what happened to her.

The overdose happened shortly after the victim arrived at the Erdmann home about 10 am and it was about 3 pm when she came around, police said. She drove herself home, went to bed, but had reactions and later thought she had multiple “heart attacks” before she was taken to the hospital.

The woman spent months in the intensive care unit and was not expected to survive, according to her daughter.

The police affidavit includes a series of text messages, including more than a dozen sent or received by Erdmann’s phone. The victim allowed police to search her phone and found messages from Erdmann.

“So sorry things went south when I was trying to make your day I don’t understand that happened,” one note said. At another point, a message claims the woman didn’t want help when she passed out. “When you came to in several minutes you didn’t want an ambulance or go to the ER. You said no way I’m going so we listened to you. You got normal in 10 20 minutes later you were fine…”

The victim on April 3 sent a text to Erdmann’s phone: “I think so highly of you. I know you are a very smart man … I think of you all as family so sorry this happened I never told them your name or where it came from.”

dr Randy Miller, Brian Miller’s father, also overdosed at the Erdmann house on July 3 and was revived with Narcan by rescue personnel, state and city records show.

dr Miller, a popular area dentist, was taken to the UVM Medical Center, where tests showed cocaine, opiates, benzodiazepine, marijuana and alcohol in his system, records show.

dr Miller, 64, remained hospitalized until July 6, records show.

The Erdmann house is directly around the corner from the home of Dr. Miller and his son at 1201 Spear Street.

The state of Vermont reached agreement with Dr. Miller to revoke his dental license because of improper dispensing of prescriptions and his own hospitalization for a drug overdose, records show.

Miller, who was the senior member of the state board of dental examiners, signed a stipulation that he would not contest four misconduct charges, records show. He also resigned from the state board. He had been licensed in Vermont since 1984.

Brian A. Miller’s fiancée, Hilary C. Kozlowski, 30 of Richmond is facing charges of assault and unlawful trespass after she went to the Erdmann home on New Year’s Day shortly before 4 pm to confront Bruce Erdmann about the death of her expected future husband.

Miller’s death at the home was attributed to an acute combination of fentanyl and alcohol intoxication, records show.

Kozlowski threatened to “cut” Erdmann with a kitchen knife with a 4-inch blade, court records show. Kozlowski indicated she arrived by an Uber at the Swift Street house and walked in through the unlocked front door, police reported.

Family members said they wrestled the knife away from Kozlowski, police said. An alcohol breath test showed Kozlowski was at 0.327 percent, court records noted. That is 4 times the limit when an adult driver is presumed to be under the influence on Vermont roads.

City Police said they arrested Kozlowski on charges of aggravated assault and felony unlawful trespass. The felony assault charge was reduced to a misdemeanor count of simple assault by George’s office by the time Kozlowski was arraigned.

Kozlowski is under a 24/7 curfew at her father’s South Burlington home, except for legal, medical or mental health counseling appointments. She also is prohibited from having any alcohol or any weapons.

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